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Politics In The Park: West Charlotte

Nick de la Canal
Todd McFarland, a native Charlottean, seated at a picnic table outside the Bette Rae Rec Center in West Charlotte

With the election less than two weeks away, WFAE is taking time this week to talk with voters in different parts of Charlotte and asking -- what issues matter to you in this election? In this first installment of our Politics In The Park series, we visit two parks in west Charlotte.

We start by meeting Andrea Poore, a 40-year-old women with two children who moved to the Charlotte area from West Virginia about 10 years ago. She's sitting on a park bench watching her 4-year-old son, Quentin, on the playground. Poore says she tends to lean Democratic, but she's still undecided between Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Further down the ballot, though, she's more confident.

"Pat McCrory was the first time I ever voted Republican," Poore says, "And at the time, I liked a lot of what he had to say. Now we have seen his performance, and I'm not quite so pleased with that for several reasons."

She thinks the pay raise he gave teachers was unsubstantial, and she's disappointed with him for signing House Bill 2. She's also very concerned with recent coal ash spills.

"I don't understand why this is even a debate at this point in time," she says, "It's poisoning the environment. Clean it up. I mean, there is no excuse for that."

Her choice in the gubernatorial election is clear. She's voting against Republican Governor Pat McCrory and for his Democratic opponent, Roy Cooper. She likely fits in with the majority of voters in west Charlotte, where Democrats make up roughly 60 percent of all registered voters. But not every Democrat here is fully against Governor McCrory's record. Take, for example, 43-year-old Todd McFarland, a native Charlottean who's eating lunch at a picnic table outside the Bette Rae Rec Center.

"The uh - house bill - the HB2 bill. That put a damper on all the things that happened to Charlotte. For some reason it just really - like a crippling blow - it broke one of our legs, so to speak," McFarland says, "But the governor stood behind what he thought was to be a good cause. And I'm - hand to God - I'm kinda with him on that."

McFarland says he backs the governor on House Bill 2, and he's glad McCrory is standing firm on the issue. "Why should you feel so bad about a man not wanting you to walk in on his daughter?" McFarland asks. But when pressed if he plans to vote McCrory for re-election, he acknowledges the law did cause the state to lose many jobs and several big events, so he's not so sure. "It's hard to say, because I'm a Democrat," he says, "So, how you do that? When he's a Republican."

All things taken into context, McFarland says House Bill 2 isn't really the issue he's most concerned about in this election. Neither is it any of the issues many of the candidates have seemed to dwell on.

"The economy is, to me, great. As far as the world goes, it's great. I mean, as far as what the government is doing, whatever. I can live with that, one way or another, because you can't do nothing about it (anyway)," he says.

The most important issue he's concerned about is the recent police shootings happening around the country. When asked about the recent police shooting of Keith L. Scott, McFarland pauses for a long while.

"That's the main thing that's got my heart in turmoil," McFarland says, "More than anything. I mean, how do you vote for that?"

We'll be speaking with voters from several parts of Charlotte all this week as part of our Politics In The Park series. Check back tomorrow, when we'll visit a park in traditionally conservative south Charlotte.

Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal